Andrey, Eduard and I want to take advantage of what is predicted to be the only good weather day this weekend and head out to Braunwald early on Saturday. It was a very spontaneous decision for me, only coming across Andrey by chance at Google's weekly TGIF celebration. Anita's friend Anne is staying with us for a couple of days and I had just given them the tour of the office and we were having our second round of beers. So the ladies decided to go sight seeing and window shopping in the city while we went climbing - I think we got the better deal ;-)
Andrey chose the route "Sött mögli si", ("Should be possible"), a 12-13 pitch 5c+/6a climb up the Vorder Eggstock (2449m) near the car free mountain village of Braunwald. The combination of train, funicular and cable car offers a very comfortable approach so that we are on the route around 10 in the morning.
The gneiss/limestone rock is of very mixed quality. The first two pitches are an easy, but annoying and annoyingly dangerous scramble up steep scree slopes. We cannot avoid dropping some rocks, swiped off by our ropes or feet. They come whizzing past the followers. It gradually gets steeper and better though. You only have to watch out on the grassy bands in between pitches.
The climbing is very inhomogeneous, some pitches are almost trivially easy with walking sections while others are steep and tricky. Andrey takes a lead fall while traversing a steep slab. Luckily he's not far away from the last bolt and above an overhanging section, so no damage done. He continues on for a couple of meters but gives up and retreats back down. I finish the pitch - a steep slab that requires jamming your hands in a crack for holds.
We solo through the final 120 or so meters towards the summit. I feel a bit uncomfortable about this at first. The climbing is very easy and mistakes unlikely. However, in the beginning exposure is still great and falling would likely have fatal consequences. This makes you climb very deliberately on the brittle rock, careful not to break off any holds or drop stuff on your comrades.
From the summit we follow the Braunwald Via Ferrata back down. While I initially thought it would add to the experience it turns out to be mostly boring. We have our first beers and the first hot meal (or any meal really) of the day on the train back to Zürich. Great day, successful and fun climb. Now I'm sitting at my desk writing this on a rainy Sunday ;-)